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Alex goes through his rite, and gets to know the rules.

He, poor sap, is under the impression that he is making a great hit with this sexy young woman, and she will lead him on with every possible encouragement until he suggests they slip off somewhere together, at which point she breaks the bad news that for this service there will be a fee. Surprisingly often, I am told, the man takes the disappointment in his stride and after a brief negotiation the deal is struck and matters take their normal course. Even when the man withstands the girl's powers of persuasion ("I promise you I'm worth every penny": this with a wriggle of indescribable sensuality, a dazzling smile and such a wicked glint in the eye), the parting is almost always on amicable terms and the girl goes her way with a slinking walk designed to heighten the man's awareness of what he has passed up.

One of the reasons the girls enjoy "fishing" is the exciting possibility of capturing a man for whom this is an entirely new experience, someone that has never before paid for sex. Once such a fish is hooked, she will spare no effort to give him the experience of his life: his first time maybe, but, if she has anything to do with it, far from his last.

One day Olga, a particularly adept angler, was round at my place preening herself on having thus corrupted a businessman of nearly sixty who, until he set eyes on her, had over thirty years of blameless marital devotion to his credit. Since that day, she told us proudly, he had seen her twice more plus at least three other girls whose numbers she had given him. On hearing this story Fran characteristically felt a qualm of conscience, and said so. Olga shrugged.

"Is good for business," she said. "Increases customer base."

At such cynicism Fran shook her head sadly. "Oh, Olga, that's an awful thing to say. Isn't it, James?"

"Well," I said, "it was certainly a tart remark."

*

Virtually all the girls have among their clients a number of regulars and they are very welcome as providing steady and reliable income, but inevitably such a relationship can get out of hand and we have had quite a few cases where a client becomes fascinated by a particular girl, either sexually obsessed or emotionally attached. Sometimes he wants to rescue her from this degradation, and there have been a number of apparently serious proposals of marriage. Fran holds the record here, with three, which is striking since she is neither the youngest nor the sexiest girl in my Stable. But she is possibly the most serious-minded, she is very pretty, and she has a wholesome girl-next-door charm about her. And of all my girls, she is probably the one that looks least like a high-class London whore and most like the girl you take home to meet mother. It is this, I feel, that probably accounts for her high proposal rate (and I have personal reasons for finding it interesting, as I shall relate farther on).

At any rate, when a client gets too much attached to a particular girl we try to deal with him tactfully. The best way is to offer him a two-girl on favourable terms, with the girl he likes plus another. Not only does he have a good time; he gets a sharp reminder of what his girl is and how she earns her living, and usually this does the trick. But sometimes it fails, or maybe the client refuses to see any girl but the one he has fixed upon. In that case there is nothing for it but for her to sever contact, if necessary changing her number, swapping her flat with another girl and avoiding her usual haunts for a while. Sometimes it must break the client's heart, I know, but it is for his own good; and it beats the alternative often preferred by girls outside my Stable of stringing a besotted client along and ruthlessly fleecing him.

As for the girls, their devotion to me leaves no room for romantic feelings for any other man.